Mark 10:1-45

Show me Jesus, Father, and show others the Jesus in me.

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Father, thanks for the opportunity several years ago to go to downtown Indianapolis for a Prison Fellowship banquet.  Several folks were singing and sharing, one of which was Kathy Troccoli (www.kathytroccoli.com).  Just after I got there and found my table, I jotted a note to her and set out to find some “staff-looking” person who might deliver it to her.  As I wandered around the foyer, I spotted the table for Love 98, the local Christian radio station, and You led me to check with the guy there.  As I was beginning to speak to him and about to introduce myself, I heard a voice from up behind him on the stairs congenially call out, “Kathi!”  I looked up to find Kathy herself!  What a surprise!  (How evidently YOUR timing!!!)

Stepping around to the steps, we greeted one another with a hug and I handed her the note myself.  I let her know that I’d be at her concert in Middletown, OH, the next night.  She said that she’s heard it’s going to be a rather small event.  She asked if I’d like to sign a song on stage there.  I accepted the invitation and let her know that just about any of her slower songs were possibilities, saying, “however the Lord leads…”  She nodded in agreement.  (The first time she called me out of an audience to sign was on October 3, 1998, in Berne, IN – See story at https://katkreations82.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/traces/; then afterward told me to let her know when I’m at one of her concerts, so she could call me up again.)

Kathy said, “I was at a women’s conference recently and saw someone who looked just like you.”  When she called out to her, … oops.  We chuckled about that and then both needed to go our separate ways as the event got underway, leaving the next night’s details in Your hands.

You saw me walk away in a bit of amazement … First, the fact of Your timing in when I arrived there, when I pulled out the pen and wrote the note, when I got up to go look for a courier, and when she was passing by.  Second, that she was aware enough of the crowd around her to notice me and that she called out to me.  Third, as You let me learn the next night, that was one of the few public points of interaction she got to have at that banquet, since her management had learned that there were two stalkers in that crowd.  (She didn’t get to come out for meeting folks after the event.)

A bit later, after the dinner, You brought to mind the passage of scripture I’d read that morning in Mark 10.  I hadn’t left enough time to fully digest it as we sat together, but had written a line of it in my journal, intending to meditate on it and journal later.  That portion said, “Jesus looked at him and loved him …” (Mk 10:21 NIV).  That line just caught my eye.

Here was this eager rich young ruler running up to meet You, Jesus, as he called You “good teacher.”  From his knees, he asked You how to inherit eternal life.  Like everything else he’d amassed in his life, he thought that this was something that must be earned, achieved or otherwise acquired.

You asked him why he’d called You “good,” noting that “No one is good — except God alone.”  By calling You “good,” was the young man calling You God?  Was the young ruler then ready to follow whatever You said?  You pointed out the commandments that the young man would’ve known to follow.  The curious thing is that You focused only on the ones that dealt with human relationships.  The man claimed to have kept all those since he was a boy.

That’s when Mark describes Your next part: He looked at the man and “He loved him.”  You knew this guy’s heart … Lord, You knew where he was coming from and where he was headed with the conversation.  You recognized the young man as someone You cared about and You chose to speak out, even lovingly confronting him.  This time You alluded to the third of the ten commandments, the one commanding us to “have no other gods” before the true God.  You told the guy that the one thin he lacked was to surrender all the goods he’d amassed by his own efforts and give them away to others.  But the guy went away sad.  He just couldn’t let go of his wealth.

I think the encounter with Kathy that night reminded me of that verse in Mk 10:21 just simply because of the indescribable feeling that arose in me at the thought of being recognized by someone so well-known among so many, and yet she took the time to call out my name and greet me.  In the case of the rich young ruler, his encounter was of a deeper nature with the Lord of all.  And ya know what … I know that if that had been me in that passage, it would’ve said, “Jesus looked at her and loved her…” And You call me to the same full surrender, no matter what my “everything I have” is, You wants ALL of me.

Father, may You have Your way with me.  Where there are things of this world that I am holding onto, help me to open my hands and let You have them.  Make my heart and mind just like Jesus’.  Amen.

Photo below: Signing “Go Light Your World” as Kathy Troccoli sings in Middletown, OH

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Traces of Our Father’s Handiwork

It had been an extremely rough summer. If there were a way to stretch me or mold me, God found it and did it!!  Finally, it was cool to see that autumn had brought some welcome changes within me.  Daddy is just SO faithful… He does such wonderful work, and it’s much easier to accept when I choose to welcome His “chiseling” and “molding.”  I had been growing utterly dependent upon Him to provide my basic needs, and He continued to be more than faithful to do so.  Eventually, I could recognize that I was growing stronger in the area of depending on Him to be sufficient for all things.  What a hard thing to learn and what a mass of things to have to let go of in my mind in order to embrace such a notion.

Enjoy these ramblings of something that He did to brand into my soul just how interested He is in my knowing, beyond any hint of doubt, that He is continually working for my good, working to make me just like Jesus. . .

On Saturday night, 10/3/98, I went with a couple of friends northward to Berne, IN. We went for a $5.00 Kathy Troccoli (KT) concert that was being hosted by the home church of one of those friends on the trip.   Of course, we were bugging him on the way up about whether or not he’d arranged for us to meet Kathy…  That night with KT turned out to be phenomenal for me!!  Daddy did something that could only be from His hand…. one small, yet huge, act for which only He could orchestrate the sequence of details to be just right.

During the concert a few house lights had been left on and couldn’t be turned off, even though Kathy asked a couple of times.  So, that meant she could see practically everyone… and she was “harassing” some folks in the audience all night or coming down to walk among us and standing on a chair to sing, just being a part of us.

In the middle of the concert or so, she did a few songs from her new cd called Corner of Eden.  One’s called “Take Me With You”…. asking Jesus to take me with Him wherever that may be.  I listened for the words while she sang and “quietly” signed it to myself, “speaking” the words to Him with my hands  (sign language)–something I often do in worship or just to more deeply enjoy or ingrain a song.  The next one was “A Different Road,” about recognizing the past and firmly determining to walk a different road with Him, for things to be different from this day forward.  Again, my heart said, “Oh yes! That’s me too” and I signed with it as well.

Toward the end of the concert, Kathy said, “I want to do one more song for you all” as she walked toward the stairs for the stage and came down to our left.  As she walked along, she said, “I’ve been watching this girl all night…”  She got to our row, looked over at me, and, pointing toward me, said, “You sign, don’t you? …like on `Take Me with You’ ”  I nodded and she asked, “Would you come do this last song with me?”  I went out to meet her in the aisle.  She took my hand as we walked toward the stage.  She paused in her talking to everyone to ask “Do you sign much?” I said (into the mike held toward me) “when I worship.”  She continued to speak to the audience, leading up to the song.

As we climbed the stairs behind the speakers, she was continuing to describe the song to everyone … and she then said the title: “My Life Is In Your Hands”…. I just “looked” at God and said, “YOU want me to say this, don’t YOU?  You want me to believe this! (And boy! do You EVER want me to say it in a big way!)”  And He knows that when I sign a song, it’s not a performance with my hands; but that a song signed comes from all of me, my entire person expresses the song along with my hands, face, and such… and He knows that for me to do that, I have to believe what I’m signing!  He knew…

She asked my name (that was fun). “Kathi,” I said.  She had that look on her face that went with “cool name,” since it was hers too and she chuckled a bit.  She held to my hand behind her back as she continued to introduce the song.  I don’t remember her words.  If I’d listened, I’d probably been a crying basket case.  Then she said, “You stand there, front and center” and she stepped to the side to sing, saying “I’ll feed you the words.” At that, I thought, “Hey, there’s NO need to do that for this one!”  I knew God had THAT under control.  (I was familiar with the song, although the copies of her CDs with that on it I’d given away twice.  So, I hadn’t heard the song for a while, except on the radio.  But I was confident that if He’d gotten me up there, He’d move my hands as they needed to go.)

We did the song together.  Usually when I’m doing something in front of people like singing, signing, or speaking and I can tell it’s really, really ordained by Him, my mouth goes bone dry and my leg shakes.  This time the mouth did its thing, but my hands were what shook.  Yet He carried me through the song, helping me to believe, know, feel and mean each concept signed.

There was an interlude near the end in which Kathy stepped over beside me, gave me a side hug, and then stood beside me to do the chorus again.  As we did, I thought I could see some movement out there (later one of my friends confirmed it)—the people were standing to their feet… (Go, God!)  We finished.  She hugged me hugely and I said in her ear, “Thank you SO much.”  She did that motion toward me for the audience saying “Kathi…” and I don’t remember hearing the hands clapping.  All I could honestly hear was my Father’s confirmation to me that indeed, my life IS in HIS hands!

I left the stage in a bewildered awe and went back to our row… where my friend greeted me with, “Was that not the biggest answer to what you’ve been seeking?!”  As she hugged me tears flowed.  I’m still in awe when I think of that night or testify to what HE did!

It was also wonderful, later, after a long-line wait to get to chat with Kathy and share briefly the impact of that invitation and the encouragement her ministry has had on my life since her early days in ’82-83.  In fact, she’d shared that she accepted Christ in ’78, and that was the year that I became His too.  Over the course of those past two decades, it’s been kind of cool that one of the sources He’s used to bolster and enhance my faith has been Kathy’s music….  wow! just, wow!

Our Daddy loves me so much! And I know that He is at work to take care of me through any and all rough days. HE is the strength of my heart (Ps 73) and I wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s becoming the One that I think of most often. I said “becoming” because I still struggle with other pursuits, probably my “thorn” that will keep me humble until I get to go “home free” and be with Him.

Somewhere along the way, I read Max Lucado’s book Just Like Jesus.  Oh! it’s SO good!!!  When we accept Jesus, we get His heart not just His name (Gal 2:20).  He’s made your heart and my heart His home.  Max writes, “He has moved in and unpacked His bags and is ready to change you ‘into His likeness from one degree of glory to another’ (2 Cor 3:18 RSV).  Paul explains it with these words: `Strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ’ (1 Cor 2:16 TLB).”

Of course, His heart may be in us, but we still have all our hang-ups and we still think so much like us.  That’s what the rest of the book is about… looking at how God sets about to shape our hearts to be like His.  He loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to let us stay that way.  It’s like a dad getting some yummy ice cream for his little girl, only to find when he gets to her that she’s playing in the yard and has dirt in her mouth.  He doesn’t leave her that way; he cleans her up, has her spit out her choice of snack and then gives her the yummy stuff.

Our Daddy’s plan is “nothing short of total transformation: He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son.” (Rom 8:29 MSG)  “You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you.  This new life brings you the true knowledge of God” (Col 3:10 MSG).

He’s been giving me tastes of a life consumed by Him… the reality of Him, not some human make-shift image or costume.  I desire my heart to reflect His.  He promises that when we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart (Ps 37:4), most often by making His desires our own.  He shapes ours into a forgiving heart, a compassionate heart, a listening heart, a God-intoxicated heart, a worship-hungry heart, a focused heart, an honest heart, a pure heart, a hope-filled heart, a rejoicing heart, and an enduring heart… as our Daddy makes us more like Him!

Visit Kathy Troccoli’s website at http://www.kathytroccoli.com/ and/or follow her on Facebook and Twitter